Almost 200 complaints in two days have been received by Cornwall Council over holiday cottages and self-catering accommodation remaining open despite coronavirus restrictions.

Enforcement has now begun - including a direct phone call to one guest who was refusing to leave. 

Last Thursday the council called on all holiday accommodation providers, including letting agents and online booking platforms, to support the Covid-19 response by following the government’s closure orders.

Read more here: Advice on cancelling holiday lets in Cornwall as some flout rules

It followed some confusion over whether self-catering accommodation such as Airbnb and holiday cottages had to shut in the same way as hotels, guest houses and campsites - something the council finally received clarification last Wednesday evening, which stated they must close as well.

Cornwall Council has now put together an enforcement team, comprised of staff who usually do other jobs, and created a dedicated email address for people to make reports of holiday accommodation operating via that it made public on Thursday.

Reporting the latest results to his constituents, Porthleven and Helston Cornwall councillor Andrew Wallis said that by 5pm on Saturday there had been190 complaints received from the public and many more were still coming regarding businesses - primarily offering accommodation - that should be closed.

He said: "Every complaint is being investigated by our fantastic staff, who were working over the weekend.

"In the first instance our Public Protection team will phone the business reported to establish the facts and where possible resolve the issue. This is followed up with an email. If we don’t hear from the business we are contacting them again.

"Follow up visits will only be made where businesses fail to close or we need to obtain more evidence. We will not be attending premises unless absolutely necessary, to avoid travel and unnecessary contact."

Mr Wallis said a large proportion of the complaints received related to Airbnb properties - many of which were addressed on Friday evening.

One complaint was regarding accommodation for key workers - one of the exemptions on that allows some holiday accommodation businesses to remain open, for example to house key workers, NHS staff and for health and care use.

A number of premises the council had contacted said they were sending their guests home and one guest was contacted directly by the council and advised to go home after a cottage owner reported that they were refusing to leave.

Several premises have now confirmed that they are closed, including a campsite.

Mr Wallis said: "The council have had an issue in that a number of the complaints received have been a little vague, which then involves a significant amount of more work to try and establish the facts - so we are asking that if people let us know of any accommodation that is being used which should be closed, please give as much information as possible including a precise address, the name of the accommodation/or owner and a telephone number or email address if you know it.

"The council continue to follow up all complaints and they will ensure no businesses are operating that should not be, to protect our communities and protect our NHS resources."

The council is working in conjunction with Devon and Cornwall Police, but said it would only request police support "if unequivocally and unfortunately necessary."

Mr Wallis concluded: "Unfortunately second homes are not included, although the government has said that journeys to second homes are not necessary journeys. Devon and Cornwall Police are dealing with that end."